The Timing of Beltaine
Chas Clifton had a couple of interesting questions on his blog the other day about the timing of Beltaine. The Wiccan cross-quarter hoildays are interesting because the dates are usually fixed a few days before the actual midpoint between the solsitice and equinox, as opposed to solstice and equinox festivities that are often celebrated each year according to the actual astronomical date of these events.
The actual astronomical date of Beltaine this year is May 5th, as opposed to May 1st which is the date usually given for Beltaine.
In his blog, Mr. Clifton asks:
Meanwhile, you may decide if Beltane and the other cross-quarter and quarter days is
a. Calculated by the solar/astronomical calendar.
b. Calculated by the secular calendar and celebrants' work schedules.
c. A week-long season, so the day does not matter.
If (a) or (b), is it better to celebrate early to get "rising energy" or as close to the actual moment as possible?
For me, the astronomical dates seem to ring truer 'in my bones' than the fixed dates. Samhain always seemed to 'feel right' a few days after Hallowe'en, and Beltaine seemed to naturally fall slightly after May 1st. On the the other hand, this does not hold true for Imbolc, although this is a festival date that I have a hard time resonating with (see previous post).
I've never really considered the 'rising energy' aspect of when to ritually celebrate Beltaine. This is definitely a bit of food for thought. Certainly, in makes sense that if you choose not to celebrate the festival on it's astronomical date then you'd want to celebrate it sooner rather than later in order to take advantage of the rising energy. Maybe this is why the fixed date actually falls before the astronomical date?